Primary schools are setting their children from the tender age of seven- an age when they are becoming increasingly impressionable and where labels will stick to their minds like glue. Parents of bright children, like myself, will argue that the lack of streaming will hinder their child's learning. However, surely at seven and eight girls and boys will still be be developing levels of citizenship which will improve in a diverse environment; when they are working alongside inspirational, cleverer children who motivate their peers, and when they provide inspiration and help those who need it. Without these two different perspectives children are living in isolated bubbles. This may lead to them becoming less accepting of those not at their level. Similarly, at primary school, the impact of background affects performance at school. Children are not at the stage to understand what they want from their education and their school attitudes and performance will mirror the attitudes of their home life. By streaming the children into (lower?) sets, their self prospects are diminished further and they feel unable to improve whilst also lacking help from home. Assessment of children's performance at primary school isn't as significant as at high school, where a degree of setting may be necessary to provide aid to those who need it. However, at primary school, a child is not expected to have reached its potential. If a child is bright, being around less bright peers will not shrink their brains. Parents argue that their genius children get bored when not streamed in classes. These children should be encouraged to aid and tutor their peers. To improve their knowledge of a subject, to improve their interaction with others and to improve their understanding of the people around them. Children need to be raised as a team, not a segregated mass of different brain densities. We are a world of human beings not a computer shop: macs at the front and cheap PCs in the back room.
Students who are academically streamed in schools have low self-esteem which makes it hard for them to learn. Students who are streamed in lower classes have fewer opportunities. For example; the higher classes move on with the topics faster and have better teachers and do have competition. Whereas the lower classes have fewer opportunities, they don't move with the topics quickly and they have teachers who are not so good.
Children that achieve more are more likely to be streamed, as they are catered to their educational needs and they're pushed to their best and then they achieve more. However if they are put in a non-streamed environment they are held back from their potential and can be achieving less than average, because they are not learning anything new.
Education in the current context and climate is outdated and needs to get with the times. Teaching is still driven by an industrial model and placement in Universities. We need to cater more effectively for all learners in the learning environments how every they may look. We need to cater for the 'Yes' and 'No' respondents in this Debate. Schools need to embrace individualised programming, teach to how the brain actually learns best and modify classroom environments so collaboration and equity are enhanced. Don't do the same old stuff, get with the programme and 'Future Teach'.
Academically streaming kids takes them away from friends, severing ties with people they enjoy spending time with, while also promoting being "Smart" and demoting being "Dumb". By segregating these two groups, we are making a gap across the age group that is a mile wide that because of these labels, these demoted kids will be unable to jump this gap for fear of falling short of being "Smart".
I am in a streamed class now and the negative effects of this ‘division of students’ greatly outnumber the benefits.
Streaming classes is one of the main causes of bullying and teasing in my schools. I am in a higher streamed class and the students always get picked on. We get called names like nerds and geeks and dweebs. The kids in lower streamed classes get called dumb and stupid. You may think that these words don't matter, but over time you really feel like you belong in the geeky higher class, or the dumb lower class. You stick out so much that you feel like a tall flower in a field of short flowers, except your petals have frayed, your leaves have dried and your stem is weak. All this teasing at my school has led to low self-esteem in many of my fellow students. In many cases of serious bullying, self-harm and suicide actions are taken.
Stereotyping is another big issue surrounding academic streaming. Many people expect so much of the higher classes. "You should know this...Why don't you know that...You're not as smart as I thought you were..." We feel like we are under so much pressure to be the best and to be the top. We often forgot our goal of being the best we can and instead, strive for being the top of the class or being better than everyone else. Unhealthy competition is created within classes, and with the amount of expectations from teachers and other students, you feel like your drowning in all the pressure. School feels like a bad dream and learning and doing work is the torture in it.
Academic streaming is a very restrictive system that places far too much emphasis on grades. Just because a student has done well for an exam does not directly mean that he or she is intelligent or smart; it just means that he is exam smart. By academically streaming students, exam smart students are given the all clear and told to be actually smart, and this in effect demoralizes students who have been streamed into a lower caste. Most of the time, these students that have been put into a lower class are not stupid or dumb, they just think in a different manner and they have not mastered rote learning. These students may even be thinking in a more creative manner and may be able to see things more creatively than their exam smart counterparts. Academic streaming only ends up throwing these otherwise equally intelligent students to one side, effectively sending the message that they are worthless. On the other hand, the exam smart students are encouraged to continue memorizing and regurgitating whatever they have learnt, thus restricting their capacity to think out of the box. This in turn affects their ability to survive in the workforce as they only have their theory knowledge but not a good way of thinking to survive.
When I was placed in the lowest Maths class I totally gave up. I was 14 years old. The years before I was in the highest set - it was a drastic change. My self-esteem was already dangerously low, but it then plummeted to an all time low. I stopped trying in class as the lessons were boring, they seemed to last forever, and I learnt nothing, only things I had learnt before in previous years. I was bright, I got As in every other subject - I only got Ds in Maths because I never had enough time in the exams and I would always panic. I tried telling my previous teacher this but she could do nothing about it. At this point I was suicidal, and was desperate. The teacher was extremely poor and throughout most classes I would think about other things. I was just going down in Maths, not up. I did not want to try to get into a higher set as I knew there was no hope. I seriously loved maths, and I loved being in the top set where we would learn new things every day, but in the other set I couldn't learn anything. The point is, that streaming is often unfair and it can lead to many students being wrongly streamed, it can make you feel like you are a failure and lead you to giving up completely. There is no motivation in the lower sets and the atmosphere just feels stagnant.
Academic streaming has a negative effect not only of the low end students but also on the high end students. The high end students have to continually prove themselves that they are worthy enough to be in the higher academic classes where as the lower end academic students dont receive that strive and push they loose the motivation to complete tasks because they have already been classified to a certain group and they loose the confidence to try and challenge the high end students.
The amount of pressure streaming placed on me was phenomenal. In addition to that, it was boring and the other students in non-streamed classes were getting the less professional teachers. It wasn't very equal and both sides obviously weren't interested in streaming. The argument which people may put up say that streaming will allow other children to work harder to get into streaming is false. Whilst some will put up in the workload in normal classes, and some are smart enough to be in streamed classes, no one actually wants to be in a streamed class (from my experience).
So, that begs the question, what are the advantages of streaming if no one wants to do it?
I went to primary in a school where there was no academic streaming, and I absolutely hated it. I am a bright person, but without the streaming I felt bored 90 percent of the time. Being bored all the time led me to hate school. I am now in a streamed environment, and I am thriving and really enjoying it.
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Without streaming, the teachers cannot teach in the appropriate pace of the students. Students also will not do their work with the best of their ability. If I were to be in a school without streaming, I would be so bored that I would want to drop out from my class.
I went to a school where I was in the bottom class and this only made me work harder and by the next year, I was in the top set. Pupils in the top class want to stay in the top class and they also work harder, In mixed ability classes clever pupils are not challenged and bottom set can not keep up.
In this type of class setting students are able to:
1.Motivate each other because they possess similar abilities.
2.Move ahead at the same pace because there are no major disparities in ability within the stream.
3.Grow in confidence and self esteem since no one is made to feel inferior or stupid among his/her peers. In fact, they offer each other friendly competition which is, in itself, motivational.
The unstreamed classroom
This class setting can have serious disadvantages:
1. Gifted students placed in an unstreamed class setting among low ability students for whom the pace has to be much slower than their own, soon lose interest in what is happening in the classroom and seek alternative means of engaging themselves. They may manifest their loss of interest through disruptive behaviour, careless attitude towards work or rebelliousness.The fact is that they are grossly under -challenged so they react. They want to move ahead; instead they are forced to stand still or perhaps even regress to match the pace of the less able students in the class who would probably need twice as much time to complete tasks.
2. Lower ability students are easily demotivated in an unstreamed setting where the pace is set above their level making their inabilities stand out in stark contrast to that of their peers. They may react in a number of ways such as withdrawal, rebellion, indiscipline and even truancy. Withdrawn students are easily overlooked and often left behind if the teacher is not sensitive and caring. Rebellion and indiscipline obviously cause problems with authority which only exacerbates the situation. Inevitably, these students become drop outs.
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Streaming is an efficient system of learning, designed and catered to the intellectual needs of each individual which vary greatly. After all, some students are just more gifted than others (admit that much). That is why we had only 1 Einstein for our entire history.
Therefore, streaming is what schools should be doing. Schools are born to enhance an individual's knowledge to be applied to later life, and they should do that to the best of their ability.
The main point that people try to argue against streaming is primarily the fact that it exacerbates social inequality. But the thing is, why do you want schools to be the model of equality? Schools are designed to provide students with knowledge, and that is its purest purpose. Imposing anything else on the tasks of schools (like making it "fair") would be detracting from this main purpose, which leads to the dilemma of schools not being able to do what they do best to their best, and doing something that was forced on them haphazardly (let's face it, no school has ever been 100% fair). It's a lose-lose situation.
Also, the notion that low-streamed students somehow 'give up" due to them being somehow attributed as "inferior" does not apply to this century. As a society, we have promoted the need for smart people, innovative people, a message deeply conveyed throughout all students, low or high-streamed. As such, the mentality of "giving up' is not an option. This is what traditional opposition relies on. But they never considered the opposite: what if this leads to more knowledge hungry students that want to shorten the gap? What if instead of deterring students, streaming allows for new motivation in studying and in the acquisition of knowledge? Wouldn't that be good?
It will allow there to be healthy competition among the classes. Having pupils of the same ability in a class helps them not only to assist one another but will also provide healthy competition. They will try harder on their homeworks and will be more eager in the class. The more able students will be stretched and challenged, while gaining extra skills that are helpful for later life, which my partner will expand on later, and the pupils who are struggling will gain the help they need to understand the topic better. Setting helps the students concentrate harder as the lower sets will most likely want to move up and the top sets will want to stay where they are. The added advantage is that teachers will be able to move on swiftly and be able to cover more topics because the top sets will comprehend the task quicker, and in the lower sets the teacher can explain thoroughly to the class and give specialized assistance when a pupil needs some.
My second point is that it helps students socialize and introduces them to new people. Students from different classes will be in each set so when doing partner work, group projects or class discussion, students will be able to get to know one another and will gain friends both in and out of their form class. Students can benefit from this in future years, when the classes are mixed up to form new ones, they will not feel as troubled making friends. Students can organize study groups and even start conversations with one another relating to classwork, which lets the students create friendships that allow them help eachother when troubled with homework, a recent task, or general issues. It lets students have people to turn to that they can trust, without having to consult the teacher and helps them grow bonds with one another that last a lifetime.
In conlusion, setting should be compulsory in all subjects as it helps each student excel with their learning, have healthy competition, lets them make new friends and allows those who are struggling to get extra help and the most able to be stretched and challenged.
I am a very intelligent person and without streaming I'm bored and not truly motivated to work to the best of my ability because the classes I take are just child's play. If there was streaming I would actually push myself to strive because I would have to, otherwise I would be dropped from any truly academic class.
I was always the top of my class at school. I was bored to death, I would cry, and I went to therapy because of my frustration with school. My school only starts streaming at Grade 10 (the grade that I am in now), and it only streams maths. Top-set Maths is one of the only things that gives me a challenge at school.
I have friends in lower sets (set 4 out of 5) and they say that they prefer it too, because the teacher spends enough time on each topic for them to understand it. They say that they don't feel like the dumb kids in the class anymore, because they are in a class with other people of equal ability.
I fully agree that pupils shouldn't be streamed for everything (too stressful for Top-set) and before Grade 8, but streaming has benefited everyone that I know in my school.